Whisky Connosr

Reservoir Wheat

Spicy Wheat

3 388

@MuddyFunsterReview by @MuddyFunster

30th Dec 2017


Reservoir Wheat
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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  • Brand: Reservoir
  • ABV: 50%

The conventional wisdom is that spice in American whiskey comes from the rye. Wheat, I learned from drinking Van Winkle wheated bourbons, ages more elegantly and softens a whiskey out over many years. However, in all my encounters with Wheat Whiskey and non-Van Winkle wheated bourbons, wheat seems to be pretty hot and spicy. When I first tried the Parker's 13 Year Old wheated bourbon, I expected it to be soft, elegant and multi-layered. It wasn't. It was big, hot, doughy and spicy.

Which brings me onto Reservoir Wheat. This is from Year 16, Batch 7, Bottle 149. Chestnut brown in the glass. On the nose it has something characteristic of the distillery, which I'd describe as peppery and youthful sweet fragrant spiciness. Also getting doughy wheat, toffee, nice soft oak and char, individual spices like cinnamon, something exotic and perfumed, Eastern spice, slight floral, red fruits. So much in the nose on this. With the taste it's young and hot wheat. Spicy, doughy, sweet, alcohol, oak, barrel char, caramel, toffee, red fruits. Finish is long lingering wood, Eastern spices, toffee. Lots of nice layers in this.


Nelom commented

Sounds great. Added it to my wishlist. Thanks for the review.

6 years ago 1Who liked this?

Victor commented

@MuddyFunster, thanks very much for your nice review.

Spice in American whiskey? From rye, yes, but also from new oak wood. Even used oak gives spiciness to a lot of long-aged Scottish malt whiskies. The intense spiciness from something like Glenfiddich 18 yo is not coming from barley. Can spiciness come also from wheat grain? Maybe a little, but I've never been convinced of that.

Oak flavours meld together with wheat flavours more closely than they do with any other grain. I think that makes the combined flavour seem like it can come from the wheat, when most of the flavour derives from the oak. As the American distiller truism goes: 50% of the flavours derive from the wood, 25% of the flavours derive from the grain, and 25% of the flavours derive from the yeast used.

I've tasted that intense Parkers Heritage Collection 13 yo wheat whiskey. It is intense, it is spicy, and it is also aged 6 years longer than the standard Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey of which it is the progenitor. The wheat between the two products is the same, except for the lack of dilution of the PHC product and the length of the wood aging. The spicing levels are, relatively speaking, enormous for the long-wood-aged PHC product and gentle for the Bernheim Original. The wheat influence is the same, albeit diluted in the Bernheim Original, but the wood influence is much much greater in the long-aged Parkers Heritage Collection.

I have also seen the spiciness of wood exemplified through the inferior barrels of the big bourbon producers. Heaven Hill's 3 year old bourbon, which sells for $ 8 per Litre where I live, has a relatively low rye content mash bill around 12-13%. The spiciness is very high, though, and that spiciness is bundled with extreme wood tannins which overwhelm the whiskey. This shows that even 3 years of new oak aging can dump huge wood spice and huge wood tannin into a whiskey diluted down to 40% ABV. This bottom shelf Heaven Hill 40% ABV bourbon is not lacking in flavour. It has too much of the wrong flavours, because it has been overwhelmed by wood influences. I like the spiciness here, but the level of tannins is way too high.

6 years ago 1Who liked this?

MuddyFunster commented

Good points Victor. This was aged in smaller barrels so contact with the wood is high. There's lots of wood spiciness, and tannins, also cinnamon, maybe cardamon and toffee which feels like its from the grain. I've got a bit of Bernheim, but alas I'm on day one of a dry January so can't compare it right now! It's never really blown me away though. I much prefer a wheated bourbon like Larceny to Berheim. I'd be very curious to taste white dog 100% wheat.

6 years ago 0